Since the recent meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where the rhetoric was clearly more positive, everyone has been talking about a “calm summer.” Most attribute Erdogan’s change of attitude, which is only a short-term tactic and not a variation of a long-term strategy, to the cost of a Greco-Turkish conflict to Ankara’s relations with Brussels and Washington.
It is becoming increasingly evident to Ankara that Athens does not stand alone, but is rather a part of regional institutions and alliances that give it added heft. In recent years this network of alliances has been strengthened, which annoys Turkey even more. Greece is not limited to its traditional allies and partners, like Europe and the USA, which clearly play a major role because of their political and economic weight.
Athens is steadily developing partnerships on the broader geopolitical stage. Our ties with Israel are well known. At the same time, our partnership with Egypt is of growing importance, as much in itself as in conjunction with Cyprus in the trilateral scheme that has been developed.
The newest addition is the United Arab Emirates. The partnership, which has Washington’s seal of approval, is deepening rapidly through continuous visits from both sides. This is not only in the military sector, which has a new dynamic forged through mutual exercises and training, but also through intelligence sharing, as well as trade and energy.
It is in this context that a new tripartite partnership is hatching between Greece, the UAE and India, which in turn is wary of the growing cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan.
The UAE is not hiding its rage over Turkey’s stance. A high official who was recently in Athens described Turkey as a “common threat” to the UAE and Greece, and as a “destabilizing factor” in the area. The UAE official accused Erdogan of “supporting extremism and not adhering to international law and state sovereignty,” as well as using religion to promote his expansionist foreign policy.
The Turkish president is not happy about the European Union and United States being a factor in Greece’s relations with Turkey. He is also unhappy about the recent partnership between Athens and Cairo and now with Abu Dhabi, two key pillars of the Arab world, each with its own historical weight and comparative advantages.
No one, and certainly not Greece, is trying to “surround Turkey.” Greece was the first to want and aim for calm bilateral relations. And it is a true believer and staunch supporter of a closer relationship between Turkey and the EU.
At the same time, Greece is not afraid and cannot be threatened. Quite apart from its considerable military deterrent power, it has built a network of alliances and partnerships, from Europe to America, to Israel, Egypt and now the UAE, that it would not be wise for any third country to ignore.